Revised Airlake Airport extension concept proposed

Avoids Cedar Avenue realignment

Under a revised concept, Airlake Airport’s runway could expand without realigning Cedar Avenue.

The draft concept, to be proposed for the airport’s 2035 Long-term Comprehensive Plan, extends Airlake Airport’s single runway by 751 feet, increasing its length to 4,850 feet.

Neil Ralston, airport planner for the Metropolitan Airports Commission, said the change enhances safety and allows aircraft to carry more passengers or additional fuel.

For a typical small business jet, the added fuel capacity could mean another 60-90 more minutes of flight time, Ralston said.

The airport’s 2008 plan was to extend the runway to 5,000 feet but required the realignment of Cedar Avenue, adding significant costs.

Under the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2012 land use policy update for runway protection zones (two-dimensional trapezoidal safety areas identified at the ends of runways to protect property and people), implementing that plan became more difficult, expensive and complicated.

“Back in 2008, rerouting Cedar Avenue through the extended runway’s protection zone was acceptable,” Ralston said. “However, with the updated guidance in place, alternatives to rerouting Cedar Avenue through the extended runway’s RPZ would need to be studied and the FAA would have to formally approve a realignment running through the RPZ.”

The revised concept being proposed uses FAA airport design standards, which allows the existing runway protection zone to stay in place and considers Cedar Avenue an existing condition within it.

Under the proposal, a gravel road in Eureka Township, 225th Street, would be moved so its intersection with Cedar Avenue would be about 750 feet south from its current location.

Ralston said the road’s relocation is similar but not identical to the 2008 plan.

Airlake Airport is primarily located in the township, but a portion of it is in Lakeville.

If the airport’s Long-term Comprehensive Plan is approved by the Metropolitan Airports Board next month, meetings will be held in the city and township this summer to present the draft comprehensive plan and gather public input.

The final draft must be submitted to the Metropolitan Council for review before being adopted by the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

If approved, the extension could be built in 2022-2023, according to Ralston.

Lakeville Community and Economic Development Director Dave Olson said the airport offers businesses in and around Lakeville one more transportation options to and from Lakeville.

Olson said some businesses use the airport for company aircraft as well as private planes that are owned by business owners,

He said extending the runway to allow for larger aircraft to use the airport may fill a need or benefit that attracts future businesses.

Ralston added the proposed plan enhances the operational safety of the runway.

“We see this as a good thing,” Ralston said. “We’re excited to get it out.”
Annexation

Discussions have also occurred for about a year between public officials regarding the potential of providing sewer and water to the airport.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission has plans to expand the airport to the south, and MAC Reliever Airports Manager Mike Wilson said there is enough space to double the approximate 100 hangars currently on the site.

He said several hanger owners want to add restrooms and have an area to wash aircraft, but the property would need to be annexed into Lakeville to provide water and sewer.

Wilson said the MAC would prefer to get the sewer and water lines in prior to constructing the hangars so they do not have to dig up cement.

Eureka Township officials have cited concerns about losing the tax base, and Wilson said the MAC is interested in maintaining the good relationship with the township, so they have been trying to negotiate an amicable annexation plan but have no agreement.

Lakeville City Administrator Justin Miller said at an April 4 City Council and Planning Commission meeting that Eureka Township requested Lakeville provide the water and sewer lines, but city officials were hesitant to do that without a long-range annexation agreement for the airport to become part of the city.

Wilson said extending the airport runway is not dependent on the annexation, but they plan to continue seeking options.

“We’re hoping to get some utilities available to that area so when the time is right it can expand, and we can build hangars there and folks can get into the facilities they’re seeking with the availability of sewer and water sewer services,” Wilson said. “There’s multiple ways to do that.”